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Disaster center to close

August 10, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - The Disaster Recovery Center that opened July 14 at the Norland Shopping Plaza in the aftermath of late June flooding in Franklin County will close its doors tonight, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency officials.

FEMA and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency announced Tuesday that the center at 2953 Philadelphia Ave. is closing along with centers in Schuylkill and Susquehanna counties.

Steve Michael, an emergency management specialist at the Franklin County center, said 304 individuals and families have sought assistance at the center since its opening. Countywide, 410 people have registered with FEMA for assistance for damages or losses they sustained as a result of the floods, said Jamilah Fraser, a field coordinator with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Since the flooding, Fraser said $564,374 in grants for home repair or replacement and rental assistance has been distributed through the Individuals and Households program to 246 eligible households in the county. Another $18,272 has been given to 47 recipients through the Other Needs Assistance program that helps victims pay for other disaster-related needs.

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Statewide, approximately $15 million has been given to approximately 9,000 individuals and families through those programs, Fraser said.

The center will be open today from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. for anyone needing answers to questions about disaster assistance or registration, according to FEMA.

Michael said activity has been gearing down at the center and the only agencies there are FEMA, PEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

A number of state and county agencies have closed up shop at the center, he said, including the state's Department of Health, Department of Insurance and Department of Public Welfare; the county Area Agency on Aging and Tax Assessment Office; Penn State Agricultural Extension Service; Pennsylvania CareerLink and The Salvation Army.

Although the center will close today, people may register for assistance by calling FEMA at 800-621-3362 or register online at www.fema.gov. Assistance includes grants and low-interest loans for damage caused by the floods, according to FEMA.

The closing of the three centers today will leave only one in Columbia County, Pa., open, said Justin Fleming, a spokesman for the PEMA/FEMA Joint Field Office in Harrisburg, Pa.

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